Indian Food Festival brings exotic cuisine to the borderland

Julia Hettiger, Staff Reporter

Indian food is prepared in a very different manner than more traditional border cuisine such as Mexican food, so if you haven’t yet tried Indian food, an upcoming event will give you the opportunity to try different Indian traditions in El Paso including cuisine, dancing and vendors selling jewelry and clothes.

The Indian Food Festival, which will take place Oct. 23 to Oct. 25 at Cleveland Square Park in downtown El Paso, will give the community an opportunity to step our of their food comfort zone and try the exotic flavors of Indian food.

“Our event is a family event with some entertainment,” said Ruben Holguin, coordinator of the Indian Food Festival. “We have Bollywood dancers, belly dancers as well as a local dance studio doing some fusion dance.”

The event will feature a variety of traditional Indian foods that will allow patrons to get a true taste of India.

“The Indian food ranges from traditional chicken curry, Tandoori chicken, Tiki Masala, Chole, Sambar, Alo Gobi and some deserts,” Holguin said.

Tandoori chicken is a dish where the chicken is marinated in yogurt and spices and is cooked at high temperatures in a clay oven called a tandoor, while tiki masala is a dish of chicken chunks smothered in a creamy, spicy sauce. Chole is a type of curry made from chickpeas and Sambar is a stew made from lentils and vegetables. Traditional Indian desserts are typically made with cashews, cheese or mung bean.

“We will also have pagodas, naan and samosas to name a few,” Holguin said.

The event will also feature other food options in addition to Indian cuisine.

“There will be other food vendors as well just in case patrons choose otherwise, bacon-wrapped hot dogs, veggie paninis and snacks,” Holguin said.

There will be other kinds of activities and vendors as well.

“We’ll have vendors from clothing to jewelry and art as well as hookah, beer and drink specials,” Holguin said.

Dancers from LAT Studio, a dance studio and modeling agency known for the television show “Model Material,” will be performing at the festival.

“We are dancing primarily a fusion of hip hop and an Indian dance style,” said Tony Aleman, director of LAT Studio.

The dancers at LAT Studio essentially learn dance techniques for hip hop and jazz dancing, so their performances at the festival will be something they are trying out.

“We have learned a lot of elements from Indian dance styles and have mixed them with hip-hop dancing,” Aleman said. “What we are doing is completely experimental, and what we have been working on is the first of its kind.”

Holguin said he hopes putting on an event like this that involves food and dance from a different culture will bring a lot of new knowledge to the El Paso area.

“The goal is to bring insight to this culture that has impacted the course of history,” Holguin said. “India has contributed to both commerce and culture, their country is hot, their food is hot, their women are hot and their men are lucky.”

He also said combining Indian culture with El Paso can be beneficial to expanding the culture in the area.

“We just want to celebrate and grow this amazing culture in the Southwest,” Holguin said.

Holguin’s team at Holguin Productions was also responsible for bringing the Mariachi Loco Music Festival to the Sun City.

“This is our second Indian food festival and our second event downtown,” Holguin said. “We brought the Mariachi Loco Music Festival to San Jacinto even with the setbacks placed by construction.”

Pratick Gathe, a member of the Indian Student Association, said it is a very good thing people can be exposed to the differences between life in the borderland and life in India.

“We have very different systems in India and I hope people will be enlightened by it because it is very different,” Gathe said.

Gathe said the event will give good exposure to traditional Indian food, which he said can be hard to find.

“It’s very difficult to find places here in El Paso that serve authentic Indian food,” Gathe said. “It’s also difficult to get full from eating a burger, because we have a very heavy diet compared to food served here, so this will be a new experience for many.”

For more information about the Indian Food Festival, call 915-408-6480.

Julia Hettiger may be reached at [email protected]